Laloo to decide RJD's role in Govt by evening

PTI | ByPress trust of India, Patna
May 21, 2004 12:52 PM IST

Brushing aside reports that he is demanding the Home portfolio, Laloo says his objective is Bihar's progress and not any key portfolio.

RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav said on Friday that all allies should be taken into confidence by Congress on the formation of Government and Common Minimum Programme.

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"Congress should talk to all allies including Sharad Pawar (NCP), Ramvilas Paswan (LJP) and DMK leader M Karunanidhi on the formation of Government as well as CMP," he said on his arrival at the Delhi airport from Patna.

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The RJD chief told reporters he would hold consultations with leaders of all alliance partners as well as party MPs before taking a decision on joining the Manmohan Singh-led Congress Government.

"I'll decide by evening on extending outside support or joining the Government," Yadav said.

Brushing aside reports that he was demanding key portfolios like Home, he said "my objective is Bihar's progress and not any key portfolio. I have never sought any key ministry nor has the issue ever come up for discussion".

Yadav, who had rushed to Patna on Thursday amid reports of sharp differences with the Congress over seeking the key Home portfolio for himself, had left for Delhi on Friday morning saying he will disclose the role of his party in Government formation there.

He stuck to his demand for a special financial package and special status for Bihar saying no purpose will be served by joining the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) ministry if Bihar continues to remain poor.

"Lal batti wali gaadi mein ghoomne se kya hoga?" (what does one stand to gain by moving around in a car with red beacons), Yadav told reporters at the airport before boarding the flight.

He said an emergent meeting of the RJD legislature party chaired by Chief Minister Rabri Devi was held late on Thursday night, which authorised him to take a final decision on whether to join the UPA Government or to support it from outside.

The RJD strongman denied reports that he had left Delhi in utter anguish after Congress rejected his demand for Home portfolio.

"Some mischievous elements in the media have spread the canard that I had sought Home ministry or Deputy Prime Ministership. Neither did the Congress seek any proposal from us nor did we submit any proposal (on ministries) to them. Laloo Yadav is not a beggar", he said.

Asserting that he was not hankering for power, Yadav said he was more concerned about changing the face of Bihar. "After all, I am not demanding anything new. The Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government had promised a special package for Bihar to cope with the loss of resource-rich Jharkhand. Even Rajiv Gandhi had promised a special economic package for Bihar".

He charged the NDA government with having pursued policies which promoted regional imbalances with Bihar being one of the worst victims.

"They did not spend on roads and other infrastructure and did not care to set up air cargo facility as a result of which our farmers are unable to get proper returns for their produce. I am more interested in getting a fair deal for the youth, the farmers and the poor of Bihar than wangling a choice ministerial berth for myself and some of my MPs", he said.

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